If you are a reporter interested in talking to someone about over imaging and quality standards, please contact Shawn Farley, Public Relations Manager at ACR, at (703) 648-8936.
American College of Radiology members approve a resolution to combat the problems of self-referral and inappropriate medical imaging. (PDF - 15 KB)
"State law adopts safety standards for MRI patients"
By: Marion Davis, Staff Writer
The Providence Business News looks at a bill approved near the end of this year’s legislative session that will raise the bar for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices used in the state, but also make it easier for doctors to set up smaller, cheaper MRI machines in their offices and get paid as much as hospitals.
“MRI and CT Centers Offer Doctors Way to Profit on Scans, Physicians Pay a Flat Fee For Procedures, Then Bill Insurers—at a Higher Rate”
By David Armstrong
The Wall Street Journal looks at doctors who are entering contracts with medical imaging companies as a means to boost their income. These contracts, which allow doctors to refer patients to imaging centers for a flat fee and then bill insurers for the procedure at a higher rate, are dubious and potentially unethical.
“… benefit to the business is plain and simple: it is an economic advantage. Medical imaging is profitable. This is another revenue stream.” Matthew J. McMahon, a Las Vegas Cardiologist.
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The Toledo Blade looks at the growth of advanced medical imaging in northwestern Ohio, the economic incentives for doctors to order imaging procedures, and the loose standards and practices that attract patients from across state lines to Ohio’s imaging facilities.
“I know of physician practices who gross $20 million annually in imaging alone. It’s the cash cow for some medical practices.” Victor Panza, an official at National Imaging Associates.
“Curbing costs of medical scans
Insurers seek to rein in fast-growing use of pricey high-tech MRIs and CTs”
By: Victoria Colliver
The San Francisco Chronicle examines the rising use of advanced medical imaging and how insurers and Medicare officials are trying to curb costs of unnecessary imaging procedures.
“If we’re going to get a handle on health costs in this country, one of the things we have to do is ask hard questions about who gets what stuff…It’s not efficient for us to spend all this money on everyone for everything, whether they need it or not.” Laurence Baker, associate professor of health research at Stanford University.
“As more referrers demand leases, rads hope for legal crackdown”
By: Tracie L. Thompson
AuntMinnie.com looks at a recent study that found physicians with in-house imaging machines are requesting screenings at a higher rate than those doctors who refer patients to radiologists.
“New Bessemer MRI unit is part of a national boom”
By: Kelli M. Dugan
Birmingham Business Journal looks at a new imaging center about to open in Alabama and its place within the national boom of independent imaging facilities.
“Individuals see huge opportunities to make money from the technical component of imaging. In other words, they get paid.” Dr. James Borgstede, chairman of ACR’s board of Chancellors.
“Imaging is everything”
By: Scott Graham
The Baltimore Business Journal details how advanced diagnostic imaging has become a booming industry in Maryland. Doctors have found that purchasing imaging equipment and administering image tests on their own is a lucrative practice. With private and public insurers willing to pay for more diagnostic imaging tests, the industry is expected to continue its growth.
“Docs seek change to self-referral rule”
February 25, 2005
By: Scott Graham
The Baltimore Business Journal reports that doctors in Maryland are seeking legislation that would reverse the decision of the Maryland Attorney General to limit the number of private doctors owning MRI machines and administering MRI tests.
“Costly Surge in Diagnostic Imaging Spurs Debate”
By: Mike Mitka
The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that the use of diagnostic imaging equipment is growing and looks at which criteria can be used by radiologists and non-radiologist in order to curb costs and improve patient care?
“Cardiologists should only be looking at images of the heart…and that is why we should be working together [with the radiologists] to develop appropriate criteria.” Michael J. Wolk, MD, president of the American College of Cardiologists.
“Are doctors ordering too many scans? Insurers say yes.”
By: Jonathan Maze
The Post and Courier explores insurers’ claim that doctors are authorizing unnecessary imaging scans and driving up Medicare costs in the process. Some doctors state that the increase in the use of imaging equipment is due to patients’ demands and the threat of medical malpractice lawsuits. Insurance companies are establishing standards for the use of such equipment by private practitioners to level costs.
“Certainly, physicians who put imaging in their office will tout convenience as the reason …The fact of the matter is, we see literature from medical societies that boldly says, ‘Put imaging in your office to make money.’” Dr. James Borgstede, chair of the Board of Chancellors for the American College of Radiology and a radiologist in Colorado Springs.
“Insurer will toughen rules for MRI providers”
By: Richard Gazarik and Rick Stouffer
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article explores new rules being developed by Medicare and other private insurers to establish standards for private MRI operators in the southwestern Pennsylvania region. The new rules require that a certified radiologist be on staff at independently operated imaging sites in order to reduce costs and increase the quality of advanced medical imaging.
“You can’t ignore the fact that a significant portion of the increase is due to self-referral abuse. You order the test and render it. That’s a combination that can be abused.” --Vic Panza, Senior Vice President, National Imaging Associates.
“Health Plans Strain to Contain Rapidly Rising Cost of Imaging”
By: Maureen Glabman
Managed Care investigates the increased use and cost of imaging technology. The story looks at the possible explanations for the increased use, such as patients demanding the tests and doctors erring on the side of caution as medical malpractice lawsuits increase. It also addresses the concerns of radiologists that all physicians may not be qualified to read images and properly utilize imaging equipment.
“In-office scans pitted docs, big insurers”
By: Susan Lundine
Orlando Business Journal reveals that in-house imaging scans are driving up health-care costs around the country. Insurers are taking steps to require standards for imaging operators as a means to curb growth.
“The fact that the people who are in charge of deciding who gets what test make money from doing that is a significant problem. We have seen a significant increase in imaging, no question.” Dr. Barry Schwartz, Vice President of care and network management for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida.
“We had trouble before with patients having imaging done on inferior equipment, and they had to have repeat images, which was costly and inconvenient.” Dr. Robert Westergan, medical director at Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic.
“Unnecessary tests can be dangerous as well as expensive”
By: Judy Vandewater
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at whether the increased utilization of advanced medical imaging is necessary and safe for patients.
“We are giving too many tests to people who don’t really need them, and we are giving them too much radiation.” Dr. Stephen R. Baker, chairman of the radiology department and associate dean of graduate medical education at New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
“For greedy docs, MRI stands for Money Rolling In”
By: Cosmo Macero Jr.
The Boston Herald explores the lucrative practice of physician-owned, in-office MRI machines. Self-referral for advanced medical imaging tests is increasing along with health-care costs.
“An MRI Machine For Every Doctor? Someone has to Pay”
By: Reed Abelson
The New York Times looks at the increased usage of imaging in the Syracuse area. While doctors claim that convenience and patient demand are fueling the increases, many are concerned about costs and physician profit associated with these procedures.
“There is just too much equipment.” Dr. Patrick J. Lynch, a local who complains that many specialists are investing in the machines as a way to increase their incomes.